PJ's Predictions: West- Second Round
The First Round of the playoffs in the Western Conference was very different than it has been for around the past five years. Many teams proved to be better than they seemed and some teams proved to be worse. Regardless, these four teams made it out of the First Round, the Warriors, Rockets, Nuggets, and Trail Blazers. They have all played hard to make it to this point but now they will compete against each other to have a chance at the Conference Finals and possibly the NBA Finals.
The first matchup of the second round in the Western Conference is the Golden State Warriors versus the Houston Rockets. This matchup seems to be the best second-round matchup in the NBA, a rematch of last year’s Western Conference Finals. The Warriors, the back to back Finals Champions, have not had the greatest year but they still managed to get the one seed due to their outstanding talent. With all their drama due to the offseason, the Warriors struggled in the regular season, which may be the reason they struggled in the first round against the tenacious Clippers. However, the Warriors will flip the switch when they play their toughest matchup yet. The Rockets had a drop off this year losing some key role players, but James Harden the reigning MVP stepped up and got them to the fourth seed even without Chris Paul and Clint Capela due to injury. The Rockets went from the first seed last year to the fourth this year and will have another chance at defeating the Warriors. This should be a tough matchup for both teams and the winner of this series will not be one hundred percent going into the Western Conference Finals. However, the back to back champs will flip the switch and win this series in six games.
The other matchup on the bottom of the Western Conference bracket is the Denver Nuggets against the Portland Trail Blazers. This should be an interesting series, considering some people thought that these two teams could have lost in the first round. The Nuggets have played great this season getting themselves the second seed, however, the reason they have not played great in the playoffs is their experience. They did not make the playoffs last year and have not made it since 2013. The Trail Blazers had a very tough first round against the Thunder but surprisingly dealt with them in five games. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum played like an all-star backcourt. Without Nurkic, their backup center Enes Kanter stepped up and filled that role and should make it tough for Nikola Jokic facing the Nuggets. These two teams are very evenly matched and this should be the longest series in the second round. However, with Lillard and McCollum playing great, the Nuggets will not be able to stop them and Portland will step up and win the series in six or seven games.
These four teams will fight to the finish to take another step towards the goal, winning the NBA Finals. It might seem like Golden State will easily take the West like previous years, but they have shown to be vulnerable so any one of the four teams could win it. The real question is who will it be? Many fans will just have to watch and see.